Member Profile

Name : Nicole A.
Gender : Female
Occupation : Adjunct Professor of English

My Reviews

This intriguing free verse novel may have a supernatural subject, but it speaks more about human relationships and society than it does about lycanthrope.

This is the best new novel I have read in a long time. I originally choose this novel because I read a great review for it in Rolling Stone Magazine and it sounded interesting, but it was better than my expectations. The entire thing was an allegory for real life. It described the constant balance between love and war and it showed how we all try to survive in a world that is often unkind. The love story was incredible, mostly because it wasn't overly sentimental. There was graphic violence and language, but it only added to the intensity of the novel and did not go overboard. It was a page turner, but every so often there would be a line or two of such supreme beauty and truth that it took my breath away. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good story and anyone who appreciates fine literature.

Insightful, Informative, Interesting
An autistic teenager, Christopher, decides to solve the murder of his next door neighbor's dog and ends up learning a great secret of his own family.

Mark Haddon really illustrates how emotionally detached an autistic person is. The entire novel is written in the most matter-of-fact manner I've ever seen, even during the most emotional parts. However, if one reads carefully enough it is easy to see the emotion lying beneath the scientific explanations of things. And there were moments when your heart just bleeds for Christopher and his parents. All in all, a beautifully emotional novel, told by a narrator with one of the most mysterious disorders in the world which, after reading this, won't seem so hard to understand anymore.

Thank You for Smoking: A Novel by Christopher Buckley
Nick Naylor is a lobbyist for Tobacco companies and he is way to good at his job, much to the chagrin of the anti-tobacco camp and his own employers!

This is a wickedly funny satire! Nick and his fellow MOD (Merchants of Death) Squad friends are promoters of three of the worst Catch 22's in America (cigarettes, alcohol, and guns), but they take their job with pride. The book also takes a humorous look at those that lobby against these products (at least those that are a little overzealous). One of the funniest characters if MOD Squad member, Bobby Jay, who is a born again Christian, but also does promotion for the gun industry! Not only is this a clever and witty satire, but the end of the novel is very exciting!

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Fun, Optimistic
Good for Quilters

I liked this book, especially the background story of Sylvia and the Bergstroms, but there were chapters that were only full of descriptions of quilting. That's great if your a quilter, but I'm not so I couldn't visualize it and wasn't very interested in it. But like I said, quilters will probably like this very much. Also, I thought the character of Sarah wasn't very developed although Sylvia's character was very developed. I'm told, however, that the remaining books in this series are more developed and interesting.

Coal Run by Tawni O'Dell
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Brilliant
Realistic Portrayal of Industrial Small Town Life.

As a person who has grown up in a steel town, O'Dell's gripping tale about a dying mining town and it's people was like reading a familiar story. Ms. O'Dell does a wonderful job painting the way people are like in towns like this. She doesn't make it too pretty, but somehow, despite the desolation in the lives of the characters, it doesn't seem terrible either. The characters are realistic and interesting; and characters like Jolene, Dr. Ed, and Ivan (At moments) are even extremely likable. But at the novels core is a story of redemption and loss that I challenge anyone not to be moved by. Everyone in my discussion group loved this book. Definitely worth reading not just once, but over and over again!

Book Club Recommended
Fun, Adventurous, Romantic
Great for a Fun, Light, Summer Read!

Probably not the most sophisticated novel in the world, but it was lots of fun! I thought the stuff about Egyptian archaeology was interesting. The mystery was pretty easy to figure out, but the characters, especially of Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson were great. I found my self laughing by the end of the novel because of these two characters. Plus, the novel had a satisfying ending. I would definitely read the rest of the Amelia Peabody series next time I'm looking for a good summer read.

Lisey's Story: A Novel by Stephen King
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Optimistic, Inspiring
Complicated, but Ultimately Great!

I'll be the first to admit that Lisey's Story is difficult to get started. King moves repeatedly from the past to the present and from the real to the imaginary and until you get used to the pattern it can be a little disorienting. However, the ending result is a beautiful allegory tale about love, loss, and "the place where we all go down to drink," the imagination and creative process. The characters of Lisey and Scott (although dead) are extremely real, if not a little unusual. The book isn't necessarily scary, but it is dark. But there is also an incredible source of light which is the love between Lisey and Scott, not to mention Lisey and her sisters. It took me awhile to finish, but when I finally did I had a smile on my face. Always a sign for me that a book has really touched me. All in all an excellent read; just stick with it!

Book Club Recommended
One Fun Read

I really liked this book. The main character of Stephanie Plum was fiesty and fun. The writer made the world of Trenton suburbs seem real even to someone from the boring Midwest. The characters of Grandma Mazur and Joseph Morrelli were also great. Also, the story was very compelling. There were times that I was on the edge of my seat and other times when I was laughing out loud. I've already started reading the next book in the series. Two thumbs up!

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
The Reader is a love story, a story of redemption, and a story of the power of words.

I saw the movie before I read the book, but when I learned there was a book I thought I can't wait to discuss this with my bookclub because there were so many issues to talk about. One: the power of the written word, the enduring power of love, and most of all the nature of guilt. It did spark many a lively discussion. But the book itself was written in a matter-of-fact way that is almost like a newspaper report. However, I think it adds to its power. The reader is forced to insert the emotions and the beauty into it for himself, and its a very easy thing to do. I cried real tears towards the end. The characters are flawed and real and the story is so powerful its hard not to be moved. Read it! You won't regret it.

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Fantastic, Epic
Another Great Installment in the "True" story of Oz

This book continues the story of Oz as seen through modern, adult eyes. This time we follow the Wicked Witch's possible son as he tries to find his true identity in a world that has been turned on its head after the death of the witch and the departure of the Wizard. In typical Maguire style, it is a fairy tale that reads like an allegory for modern life. We learn about the corruption of politicians, the pretensions of the rich and famous, and the confusion of religion. But most poignant in this novel is the main character's journey to discover who he is after a life of mostly invisibility. Very interesting, although it does go back and forth between the present and the past very often.

Fragile Beasts: A Novel by Tawni O'Dell
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Interesting
Fragile but Strong

O'Dell once again depicts the beauty and tragedy of the working class person. Her characters are always lively and realistic. In fact, I saw some of my own brothers in the characters of Kyle and Klint (especially the line about the amount of Little Debbie snack cakes and spicy Doritos they eat). At first, I wondered about how she was going to work in the bullfighting motif because it seemed a bit of a stretch. However, she did a beautiful job tying the story of El Soltero with the lives of the coal miners that are her usual characters and the two stories complimented each other wonderfully.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Brilliant

I'll admit this was not the easiest read, mostly due to the occasional scientific descriptions of the main character's father (a physicist). However, this novel was a wonderful portrayal of the complexity of the Father/Son Relationship. Also, it deals with the issues of finding who you are as a person and your destiny separate from your parents plans for you. It was beautifully written and very moving.

Sister Mine: A Novel by Tawni O'Dell
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Dramatic
How-To Survive a Tragic Past

Survival is the prevalent theme in O'Dell's third novel. The most obvious is the survival of trapped coal miners in Jolly Mount's mine JoJo, but the main theme is how to survive one's own life. Shae-Lynn Penrose is O'Dell's first female protagonist and she is just as real as her other characters. When you first meet her you are impressed with her strength and spirit, and then you find out just how damaged she is. However, the novel shows the incredible spirit of how those who have lived through the worst (whether it be being trapped beneath the earth or having an abusive father) and have still managed to learn to love; and in the case of Shae-Lynn love fiercely. This novel was both fun and beautiful and I would highly recommend it to anyone, but especially those who come from a working class background.

Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
A Magical Trip Under the Big Top

Sara Gruen's tale of Jacob and the depression-era circus life is just wonderful. First of all, the human characters are very real. They are beautiful, tragic, flawed, and amazing. However, probably my favorite thing about this book is the animals. Instead of just being background for the story, they are an integral part of the story; especially Rosie the elephant. These animal characters are funny and moving and really add to the magic that is this novel. I would easily recommend this book to anyone and I'm looking forward to the movie version.

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Adventurous
A Fascinating Victorian Mystery

Anne Perry does a wonderful job giving the reader a sense of what it might have been like in Victorian England. Her characters are real and flawed and she gives great detail of the societal pressures of the time; as well as the distances between the haves and the have-nots in this time period. The mystery is interesting and keeps you turning the pages, but I believe it is in the characters and setting that this novel has it's greatest strengths.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Dramatic
A Mystery Full of Twists and Historical Goodies!

Anne Perry's No Graves As Yet is an interesting look at how the start of World War I affected everyday people. Of course, there is a murder or two to be solved (it is a murder mystery) but it is based in a fascinating period in English history. Perry also takes the opportunity to explore complex moral issues, such as forgiveness and whether or not the ends justifies the means. All of this makes for an interesting read, but it is the wonderful and complex characters that bring the story to life. Joseph Reavley and his sister Judith, as well as the Allard brothers, make interesting character studies. Everyone in my bookclub thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it for fans of mysteries.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
An Insightful Look at a Fascinating and Tragic Historical Event

I have always been very interested in the Salem Witch Trials and was excited to see a novel of historical fiction written by one of the direct descendents of a woman accused. I would say the strongest feature of this book would the fact that it brings the history of this event to life in a very vivid and moving way. Also, the characters are well-drawn and fully fleshed out. Often character studies of those accused of witchcraft tend to be a little shallow, but this novel shows Martha Carrier as a complex and interesting person. The only weakness might be that it is a little slow at the beginning (especially if history is not your strong point), but about halfway through it picks up and becomes a very fast read.

The Confession: A Novel by John Grisham
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Gloomy
An Interesting Read that Makes for Great Political Discussion

John Grisham has written another brilliantly moving work that shows his passion on a subject. Just like Runaway Jury dealt with gun control, The Confession deals with the death penalty. The main characters are very interesting and complex and he manages to grab your attention pretty early. Will the wrong man be executed? Will they get there in time? My only complaint was that it didn't need to be as long as it was. The novel was 418 pages (in hardback) and could easily have just been about 300. Grisham got a little too detailed when describing the aftermath of the events. However, this is a great book for those wanting to have a serious political discussion based book club meeting. Warning though, if you do not want such a discussion this may not be the book for you. Grisham definitely had an agenda while writing this book and it will spark some serious discussion about capital punishment. If you don't think your members can discuss this issue peacefully, it may not be a good idea.

Book Club Recommended
Fun, Pointless, Graphic
A Witty and Humorous Christmas Story

Fair warning, if you are looking for a touching and heartwarming Christmas story then you might want to skip this one. However, if your book club is looking for something to read in December that is not the usual sentimental mush, then you might want to consider Moore's latest Pine Cove adventure. The novel was very funny and made some interesting points about the way that most people in this country celebrate Christmas (at least through most of it). It was well written and the characters (though not at all typical) were very fun. However, the ending was weak. I don't want to give too much away, but once the story got to the finale it lost me. I personally did not care for anything from the moment the angel grants the child's wish on, but a friend of mine only had a problem with the very last chapter. All and all though, a very entertaining book.

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Adventurous
A Terrific Read

I chose this book for our book club because it's been such a sensation and it did not disappoint. This book's only weakness is the very beginning is kind of slow (when it goes into all the economics of Mikael Blomkvist's work), but once it picks up it's hard to put the book down. This book is compelling and suspenseful and has terrific characters. Larsson really does a good job of making his characters interesting and likable at the same time. Warning though, it gets really dark at spots and the crimes that take place can be pretty disturbing. Not for the faint of heart.

Book Club Recommended
A Wonderful and Relevant Memoir of Adoption and All It's Triumphs and Tragedies

David Gerrold's Martian Child is such a wonderful book. For those of you familiar with the movie starring John Cusack, this book has all of the inspiration and heartfelt moments while also adding some pretty interesting and serious issues and problems. Gerrold perfectly and poignantly paints a picture of an adoption that is full of joy, but not without some serious problems that need to be overcome. From the early days of the adoption process (when he discovers that single men are last of the list of possible adoptions) to the issues that he faces after adopting a special needs child (with a history of abuse that is not addressed in the film), Gerrold creates a book that will enchant as well as inform. I highly recommend it for all.

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Fun, Dark
Graphic Novel for the Literary Set

The Unwritten Vol. One was my club's first foray into the graphic novel world. We thought it would be interesting to read one, since it has become the new trend in reading. Everyone in the club enjoyed it. This graphic novel is unique because it uses literature as a major part of it's mythology. Some of the novels referenced in this volume are the Harry Potter Series, Frankenstein, and the works of Rudyard Kipling. However, it should be mentioned that this is only the beginning of the series and a person who has read more of them told me that this was not the strongest of the series and it only gets better from here. The biggest strength for this volume is the literary allusions and the questions about the nature of reality. The weakness of this book was that Carey chose to put the section with Kipling at the very end and it kind of reads like an appendix. It might have been better if it had been dispersed throughout the novel.

Book Club Recommended
Fun, Insightful, Pointless
Nora Ephron Brings Humor to Life's Journeys

If you enjoy the humor in films like When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail, you'll enjoy this book. Ephron manages to discuss the joys and sorrows of life in a way that is not preachy or cliche, but always with humor and optimism. She tackles everything from the pitfalls of aging to the ups and downs of mother to the chaos of a woman's purse. The writing reads like a personal journal (and is therefore a little disjointed), but it's interesting to see how a person's stream of consciousness works. I really enjoyed this book and most of the people in my bookclub enjoyed it too.

The Yearling (Aladdin Classics) by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Slow, Insightful
A Classic that's Beautiful and Sad, but Takes a Lot of Patience

I picked The Yearling for my book club because it was spring and I wanted something that had a spring-like feel to it. The Yearling definitely fits that description. It is a wonderful novel in many ways, although you need to make sure that you have a box of tissues at hand for the ending. However, it takes quite a while to get there. Rawlings had an incredible ability to paint a scene in words, and both my fellow book club members and I agree that this is both the strength and the weakness of the book. She takes such meticulous time describing the Florida scrub that her characters live in that it takes a good 250 pages to get to the real action of the story. Nonetheless, if you have the time and the patience for it this is a beautiful story about the difficulties one experiences when leaving childhood and entering adulthood.

Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Informative, Dramatic
American Heiress is a Must for Fans of Historical Fiction and/or Romance

American Heiress has all the tell-tale signs of a good book club read. It has lots of extravagance, romance, and drama. I know that my book club had a good time debating whether or not they believed Cora's husband. For those who are more literary minded it 's also good representation of the literature of the Gilded Age. It reminded me of a book by Edith Wharton or Henry James, except more modern and easier to read. I would definitely recommend this, especially of your club is mostly women.

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Adventurous, Interesting
A Great Science Fiction Novel for anyone who loves either monster movies, WWII, or old Hollywood.

My book club wanted to do a science fiction book for a little bit of a change so I looked up old Hugo Award winners to find a good one, and find a good one I did. Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a very interesting novel. It's lots of fun because of the connection to Godzilla movies, but it is also very thoughtful and, at times, very literary. Morrow does a great job showing the effects of war and creating weapons of mass destruction on the human psyche. The way that Morrow takes a man who had no attachment to anything political and thrusts him into the efforts to scare the Japanese into surrender was, I thought, very realistic and dramatic. However, one of my club's favorite features was the fact that, when depicting the Hollywood of 1930's and 40's horror filmmakers, he combined real people, characters, and films with ones that he made up. We all felt that it made it more believable. Finally, the repercussions of the nuclear age were dealt with so sympathetically towards the end of the book it came close to making the novel heart wrenching. The only weakness we all agreed on was that there were a few things that were a little hard to believe, but, being science fiction, it's not that great of a weakness. There were also a few characters that were stock characters (specifically the naval officers and FBI agents).

Jane Eyre (Signet Classics) by Charlotte Bronte
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Dramatic, Dark
A Novel that Takes Time to Read, but is Worth It

Our book club decided that it wanted to read a classic and Jane Eyre was the one that was chosen. I was very happy because it has to be tied with Frankenstein with my favorite book of all time. This is a beautiful novel with great characters and poetic writing. The only problem anyone had with this was that it was not an easy read. Being written in the 19th century there are very long sentences and paragraphs describing every detail of every scene. But the way that Bronte paint with words is absolutely beautiful. Just about everyone rated this very highly. It's not only the story of a sweeping romance, but of a woman finding her way in an unforgiving world. Groundbreaking as well, for it's portrayal of a strong and independent woman. Definitely a good idea for any book club that wants to sample a classic.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Adventurous, Dark
A Western for the Modern Reader

The Sisters Brothers was a very interesting foray into the world of the wild west. The main characters were very interesting and DeWitt really looked into the psychological reasons that drove the brothers to do what they did. He also created a very interesting character in Hermit Kermit Warm. The only complaints that members of my book club had was that there were still some stock characters (though we agreed that this was probably an homage to the classic western) and that the writing style was a bit simplistic. However, this also was probably because the narrator of the book (Eli Sisters) was a simple guy. It was also a very fast read.

The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Fun, Adventurous
Perfect for a Fun Summer Read

My book club decided to do some genre reading this summer. This month we decided to go with a spy novel by Ken Follett. I'll admit the book started out a little slow. Before one gets to know the characters it's all war maneuvers and spy techniques. However, once the reader gets invested in the characters of Wolff, Sonja, Vandam, and Elene the book becomes very addictive. I started to loath to put it down. Another nice touch of Follett's was the addition of real historical figures, especially Anwar El-Sadat. Follett tries to gain insight into the minds of these people and makes them more human. I'm not the biggest fan of this type of novel, but Follett is one of the best. He has a good sense of character and plot.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Dark, Scary
Mike Carey's Novel Debut is Loads of Scary Fun! Perfect for Horror and Mystery Fans Alike.

My book club read this novel as the last of our summer genre series. We were reading it as a part of the horror genre, but it is a who-dunnit mystery as well. The only difference is, instead of your typical Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot type crimes, this novel involves ghosts, demons, zombies, and succubi! However, the story still has a very strong human element. Mike Carey's version of the detective is an exorcists with a sarcastic sense of humor and a very real sense of guilt. He also has a questionable moral compass at first, and must learn a few lessons along the way. The human characters in this novel were very believable and fully explored. Even some of the ghosts and other supernatural creatures were well-rounded characters. All in all this was a very entertaining and, at times, compelling read. I couldn't put it down.

My Father at 100 by Ron Reagan
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Beautiful
A Beautiful Memoir of Ronald Reagan by his Youngest Son

I thoroughly enjoyed Ron Reagan's memoir of his father (written during what would have been the President's 100th year). Instead of just giving us a chronological account of his father's life, Mr. Reagan breaks up the bare facts with digressions that help to illuminate the character of one of our country's most influential and beloved leaders. However, if you want a complete account of Ronald Reagan's life from beginning to end with details from every event, this is not the book for you. Instead, Ron tells his readers the stories that he feels helps to enlighten the reader to the kind of man his father was. For example, the Hollywood years are mostly glossed over and the author does not give details on every policy ever enacted by his father during his Presidency. Also, some of the members of my club felt the constant digressions were a little distracting, but I thought it made it better and more like a story. In conclusion, this book is entertaining and, at times, very moving. It gives you a good idea of Ronald Reagan's character but not all the facts of his life.

Informative, Slow, Boring
Too Detailed and Dry for a Book Club

Victoria Price's biography of her father was a chronicle of her father's life (as well as her grandfather's and great grandfather's) from beginning to end. If you want lots of information on the life and times of Vincent Price then you will enjoy this book. If you are looking for personal stories and an intimate look at a woman's father, you will be disappointed. Price seems to take her job as biographer a little too seriously, chronicling things that I'm sure not everyone would be interested in. The most frustrating thing was when she was listing every movie her father appeared in and every person he worked with on those movies. She dropped so many names I felt like I needed a broom and dustpan to pick them up off the floor. As the book gets towards the end, it does improve with more stories about Vincent Price's actual life (probably because this is the portion of his life his daughter was actually present for), but it is still a little dry. Personally, I feel this book was not interesting or fun enough for a book club, but if you want lots and lots of info, you will enjoy it.

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Slow
A Generation X Fantasy Novel

When I first heard of this book, it was from a recommendation for fans of Harry Potter. I can see why the person made the comparison, but she should have qualified her statement: Yes, this is a fantasy novel about magicians in a magic school, but it is not an idealistic and light read. There is a cynicism in this book that you won't find in even the darkest of the Harry Potter series. However, this book has it's own special genius. Through his adult fantasy novel, Lev Grossman manages to say things about life that can be applied to every person who lives in the real world. I would say that it is a Generation X fantasy, because it's main protagonist (Quentin Coldwater) is an unhappy and displaced character that definitely fits the usual definition of the a Gen Xer: He's cynical, disaffected, and has a certain egotism (that does not necessarily include a love of himself). Throughout Quentin's struggles the reader is reminded of the elusive nature of happiness and what it was like to learn to take responsibility for their own life. A very interesting and insightful novel, with plenty of magic, sex, and violence to keep even the most avid fantasy reader interested.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Beautiful, Epic
A Beautiful Novel, Worth the Effort

Les Miserables is probably one of the most enduring stories of all time because Hugo touches on things that are common to every human in every era: poverty, sacrifice, and faith. It is a long book, and (if you have the unabridged version) there are times it can be slow. However, if you choose the abridged version you can avoid all the chapters that refer to the political situations of Hugo\\\\\\\'s time. It\\\\\\\'s my advice that, abridged or unabridged, you give this novel a chance because it is worth the effort.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Fun, Informative
A Fun and Short Read

84 Charing Cross Road is an epistolary novel about a woman's correspondence with a bookseller that gets her rare, but second-hand books. It is definitely relatable for those who are book-lovers. A book-lover can identify with Hanff's excitement over getting each book that Marks & Co. sends her. My only problem with it is that the letters are so short and don't really give you a real sense of the characters. However, if you want to give a club a very easy read, this is the perfect book for you.

Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Epic
A Stunning Look at the Vietnam War

The Lotus Eaters is a terrific novel about a female photo-journalist who goes to Vietnam to try to tell the real story and falls in love with a Vietnamese man, the country, and the war itself. It depicts the war as a multi-faceted living organism in and of itself, where lines between the good guys and the bad guys are soon blurred and boundaries start to disappear. The characters are brave and inspiring, but are also real and are shown with their weaknesses and all. The only downside of the book is that it does switch perspectives quite often, which was confusing for some in my club. But overall I would say this is a fabulous novel that I, for one, could not put down. I highly recommend it.

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
A Gorgeously Sad Novel about Love and Loss

M.L. Stedman\\\'s first novel is irresistible. From the amazing descriptions of the beauty and isolation of Tom and Isabel\\\'s lighthouse home to the gripping suspense of what will happen to the baby that washes up on their shore, this book will grab your heart and never let it go. I really had a hard time putting it down. The characters are realistic and fully realized and will break your heart. I highly recommend it.

Book Club Recommended
An Interesting Historical Look at the child Jesus Probably Was, that also Manages to Follow the Gospels

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about reading a book about Christ by Anne Rice. However, Rice was not only respectful to those who believe in the Gospels, she also went beyond it to imagine what these people that Western People (believers or not) know so well actually thought and felt. One of the things that impressed me most was the fact that she actually told the story from Jesus' point of view. That was an incredibly bold move. Also, though I have no problem with the more liberal theories about Jesus, I thought it was a smart choice to stick to the Gospels. Not only will this keep people who believe in them strongly happy, but it made the writing all the more interesting and challenging. However, a writer of Rice's talent was definitely up to it. One of the most interesting things was seeing Jesus as a devote Jew. Because of this, I learned a lot about what it would be like to be Jewish at that time period. It was a very enlightening book, but also a lovely one. Jesus is depicted as the kind, loving, generous, and forgiving person that Christianity tries to teach about (often not succeeding due to their own harsh judgments). A lovely novel for believers and an interesting historical novel for non-believers. Plus, it led to some very lively discussion.

The Host: A Novel by Stephenie Meyer
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Romantic, Insightful
A Fun and Interesting Book on What It Truly Means to Be Human

I agree with the other reviewer, who says this is a fast and fun read, but I disagree with the idea that it is nothing but pure fantasy. I think Meyer actually has something to say here (unlike in Twilight). The Host, despite all the romance and dramatic alien invasion, explores what being human truly means (beyond the mere physical facts of the species). Are we beasts with big brains (as the aliens seem to believe at first) or are we something higher than that? Is our nature cruelty or kindness? Which is stronger, our physical needs or our emotional needs? The most interesting thing about this book, in my opinion, is the fact that it is told from the alien's perspective. We get to see our species through the eyes of a stranger and invader. I highly recommend this to anyone, whether they are into literary books or just a fun read.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Great for anyone who is interested in the aftermath of Titanic

Although this book centers on a love triangle, I feel that was the least interesting part of the book. What is great about this book is how the author takes a historical figure who was vilified for her actions when Titanic sunk and makes her (and her husband) human. There is also a lot of great information about what happened after Titanic sunk, as well as pointing out some of the most important political movements of the day. Lots of great description and plenty of emotion.

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Gloomy, Boring
A Realistic Book by a Fantastic Writer

Overall, this is a really good novel. It was a little slow going at first because she has to take time to introduce the many different characters, but once it started moving I couldn't put it down. This book is brilliant in it's depiction of human nature, including the ugly side of it. But for Harry Potter fans, I warn you. This is not at all a fantasy and is not the feel good novel that her Harry Potter series often was. Instead this book is a work of literary fiction that exposes the petty behavior and apathy of a small town full of fairly affluent middle class people towards a community of impoverished people on there border. Rowling has created a story that most people could see unfolding everyday outside their own doors, if only they would stop and really look. Her characters are totally believable, but not necessarily likable (though there are a few that I liked). These are flawed people, but they have their moments of revelation and introspection that leads a few to rethink their way of living. But at it's core, like Harry Potter, this is a novel about tolerance, understanding, courage, and love. It just isn't shown through rose colored glasses.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Insightful
A Wonderful Book about Faith, Love, and History

Chevalier's novel is both gripping and pleasant. The action centers around a Quaker woman who moves from England to America in search for new surroundings and a fresh start. What she finds is country in turmoil and fellow Quakers whose values have been compromised by circumstances. Although the story centers on a group of Quakers, as well as the runaway slaves that come to them for help, the story's themes will resonate with anyone who has every found themselves in a strange place, with people they don't fully understand. It is about learning to walk a mile in someone else's shoes and what it means to actually act on principles.

You by Austin Grossman
Book Club Recommended
Only recommended for people who have some appreciation of video games.

This was not by any means a bad book, but it could read a little slow at times, especially if you are not a video game player. The book was not without things that could be appreciated by the non-gamer: the ultimate game is a metaphor for life and the game characters mirror the novel's characters. However, there are long descriptions of gameplay and it can be tedious for the non-gamer. Definitely an interesting edition to literary fiction though.

Book Club Recommended
For Fun Summer Reading

Jimmy Buffets novel is by no means realistic, but it is lots of fun. In fact it reminded me of a less cynical Hemingway (think Islands in the Stream). My favorite things about the book was his descriptions of the Caribbean Islands where the action takes place.

Book Club Recommended
Fun, Pointless, Poorly Written
A Hilariously Wonderful Story about Life, Love, and Accepting Yourself As You Are

Jenny Lawson has written a memoir that will have you laughing out loud, but it will also move you deeply. As she tells the story of her life, she reveals a lesson that she learned from every experience (no matter how unusual and/or tragic). Everyone in my book club enjoyed this book.

Not as Interesting as it Could Have Been

When my book club chose this book, I was hoping for something that it would have an interesting insight into the seedy underworld of Mafia run Steubenville. Instead, it was written as if longing for the days of organized crime. That in and of itself was upsetting, but even worse was the disorganized way it was written. Characters are introduced for one paragraph and then never mentioned again. The whole thing was scattered and never explored anything enough to really catch my interest.

I suppose it might be nostalgic for those who actually grew up during Steubenville's heyday, but there is nothing for those of us who don't have memories of Little Chicago.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Dramatic
A Quick but Amazing Read

What can I say about this book? It is a beautiful book about how we need to live life and not just observe it. It is about friendship and both belonging and not belonging. I love this book with all my heart. The characters are fully realized and immensely likable. Finally, these people are both completely familiar and yet totally unique. It's a special book and I highly recommend it.

Book Club Recommended
The Stories Behind Prydain--Great modern era fairy-tales

This book is an interesting read for any fan of fairy-tales. Lloyd Alexander writes his own fairy-tales/myths based on his legendary land of Prydain. Each story has it's own moral and lesson, as well as telling you a foundation story for some of the most important characters in his Chronicles of Prydain series.

Great for any fan of folklore or fantasy.

11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Dramatic
A Moving and Positive Literary Masterpiece from a Horror Master

Stephen King has managed once again to surprise me. While he\\\'s written other literary novels before (like Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile), this novel is truly something special. This is because this novel (while having it\\\'s sad moments) is ultimately a positive look at love, fate, and the plans of the universe.
It\\\'s long, but it\\\'s also a real page turner. When I was reading it I couldn\\\'t get it off my mind and it was hard to put it down to get some work done. However, if the members of your book club don\\\'t think they can get it done in time, try splitting it into two different meetings (that\\\'s what we did).

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Inspiring, Beautiful
An Interesting Immigrant Tale

Trigiani takes inspiration from her real life grandparents to write a great love story that spans from the Italian Alps to Manhattan to Minnesota. The best thing for me was reading about the experiences and lives of the Italian immigrants (since my great grandfather and great grandmother were ones themselves). However, even if you can\'t relate in that way, Trigiani\'s descriptions and characters are so well drawn that the story should captivate just about anyone. I highly recommend it!

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Beautiful, Slow
A Pleasant Read from Maeve Binchy

This book just made me smile. I found it very pleasant. It wasn't action-packed, but it also was not boring. The characters are likable and realistic. The only thing some readers may not like is the fact that the book is not written in chronological order. Instead Binchy focuses on each character's story, one at a time. I, however, thought this was a wonderful way to get everyone's own unique perspective on things.

The Fifth Vial by Michael Palmer
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Scary
Exciting novel about the dangers of playing God

We've all heard the urban legends about the black market organ trade, but this book goes beyond this into an actual horror situation where doctors decide to play God. This book is a page turner from the start. The heroes are likable and the connections to Plato's Republic is very interesting. Once I got towards the end I couldn't put it down. The ending is a little controversial though.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Fun, Beautiful
A Very Well Written Novel about the Ups and Downs of Women's Friendships

This novel was incredibly well-written, so much so that I couldn't help but draw parallels to my own life and relationships. That's probably why I couldn't rate it higher, it hit a little too close to home and [spoiler alert] doesn't really have a happy ending. However, it caused me a great amount of emotion and isn't that what good writing is supposed to do?

Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Insightful
Hilarious and Moving All at the Same Time!

This is one of my favorite books I read this year. It was entertaining and also had believable characters that I couldn\'t get enough of. Though there were moments of sadness and tension, it was ultimately optimistic and hopeful. The message: we can overcome our shortcomings and find happiness while still being ourselves.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Incredibly moving and interesting novel

This novel was great. My whole bookclub liked it and that is not very common. Not only is the book historically accurate and resonates with issues today as well as in depression era U.S., but it was very moving. The characters were realistic and likable. There were even a few twists and turns on the way. As one lady in the book club put it, it shows the resilience of the human spirit no matter what the circumstances.

I Am An Executioner: Love Stories by Rajesh Parameswaran
Interesting, Dark, Slow
Good literary short stories, but probably not good for a book club.

Although the stories are well written, they are darkly humorous and not exactly easy reads. I wouldn't recommend it for a book club with people who don't appreciate more difficult reads. Definitely not fun enough for a summer book club meeting.

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Dramatic, Slow
A Wonderful Classic, but Not for Everyone

This is a great book by Jane Austen. The characters are interesting and the love story is very nice. There is also a lot of information on how the class system worked and the importance of appearance to the gentry in England during the Victorian Era. However, it is not an easy read, so if your club does not like reading books with old or difficult language it might not be for you.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Book Club Recommended
Scary, Interesting, Addictive
Riveting Continuation of a Classic Character of Horror Fiction

Stephen King's continuation of The Shining's Danny Torrance's life is addicting and, though scary and disturbing at times, has some real moments of inspiration and beauty. I found myself unable to put it down and read it fairly quickly, even though it is a long book.
It might not be as horrifying as The Shining, but the story is actually more involved and says a lot more about life--while also going into the realms of fantasy and horror as well.

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